Dr. Kevorkian, Meet Radio and Records

At the Grammy's the other night, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow stepped up on his nationwide soapbox and promised to "fight to pass legislation to once and for all ensure that, just like in every other developed country in the world, all music creators are compensated for their performances when played on traditional radio".

Fortunately, no one heard him.

The Grammy's pulled in the third worst TV audience ratings of all time.

Apparently, Alicia Keys was not listening either when she thanked "every radio guy" in her acceptance speech -- a real time acknowledgment that she couldn't have won without the free airplay she got from radio.

Portnow's lap dogs, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy and Internet and Property Subcommittee Chairman Howard Berman of California (who is pandering to his Hollywood constituents) have issued identical bills to "close the loophole".

It's apparent that it is now time to dial Dr. Kevorkian, "Doctor of Death" who gained his notoriety by assisting terminally ill patients commit suicide.

Well, the radio industry and the record industry are terminally ill.

They keep trying to kill themselves off, but they're just hurting themselves and those around them.

The radio industry is committing suicide by strangulation -- cutting, slicing, dicing its product and reducing the surviving employees to the last men and women walking. CBS chopped some more assets off in St. Louis the other day. Clear Channel, well -- you know firing has been a big part of their business plan since they have gone public. Firing and reorganizing -- if that's what you insist on calling downsizing.

The music industry, equally clueless and hopeless, is hell bent to get the performance tax exemption removed from the one source that drives traditional CD sales -- radio. And it makes a lot of sense. Why not burden a dying radio industry even more by charging radio stations to help you sell product. Well, it makes sense the way these two industries do business.

The real reason radio companies are cutting back is to mask their under performance in the profit column -- Wall Street's gold standard.

The real reason the record labels want more revenue from radio is to hide their inability to be a viable business in a digital world. Not one viable idea since the digital revolution was launched.

But now this has all gone too far.

I hate to see the poor radio consolidators and greedy record labels suffer so much. There is nothing we can give them to reduce the pain while we wait for them to die. It's time to dial 1-800-DRDEATH.

Who will be the "Dr. Kevorkian" who will finally put the record labels and the radio consolidators out of their misery. Once proud, once booming -- these two traditional media platforms are a mere shadow of their former selves.

And we won't have to deal with ethical issues of assisted suicide because neither the record business nor radio consolidators have let ethics get in their way lately.

So, who is it going to be? Who can put an end to the pain and suffering of these two formerly great businesses once and for all.

How about the RIAA for the record labels?

They've done just about everything else possible to hurt the music industry. Give the lawyers more power so that they self-destruct five or ten years earlier.

And, how about Wall Street's investment banks for radio?

Maybe they could escalate the pillaging of the radio industry by making funds available to continue the trafficking of radio stations for their profit. After all, was there ever anyone else?

The sad state of radio and records is attributable directly to their own lack of leadership and poor vision. Selfish interests have led to losing sight of the real prize -- the digital and mobile future.

Since no one can protect the radio and records business from itself, it is time to let them deliver a lethal dose of -- ultimate bad management. The very thing that ruined two viable businesses and accounts for strategic blunders like the record labels wanting to tax the radio industry.

But it's worse than that. And we can't save them from themselves.

They're not dead yet but they are burying themselves alive.

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